Mississippi’s medical cannabis bill is in the hands of the House after being approved in Senate

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A medical cannabis bill was approved in the Mississippi Senate on the morning of Friday, February 12, but not before its initial rejection by the Mississippi Senate on Thursday, February 11.

Senate Bill 2765, which is now awaiting review in the House, was approved with a vote of 30-19. The bill has gained traction following the November 2020 election, when 74 percent of voters approved Initiative 65; leading to statewide medical cannabis legalization.

Tax revenue generated through the state’s medical cannabis program is expected to bolster the local economy. Based on the language of Mississippi’s medical cannabis bill – “The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act” – products would be taxed at seven percent.

An overview of Initiative 65 

Under the terms of Initiative 65, the Mississippi State Department of Health fully maintains control of the medical cannabis program. As per the legal framework, patients who are diagnosed with one of 22 qualifying medical conditions can use cannabis as a treatment option. 

Only licensed physicians in the state can approve patients at licensed treatment centers. In-person examinations, once carried out, will enlighten patients on whether or not they qualify. Those who do qualify can apply for a medical cannabis identification card with the DOH.

An overview of Senate Bill 2765

Senate Bill 2765 goes more in-depth into the details surrounding Mississippi’s medical cannabis market. Filed by Senator Kevin Blackwell (R), the bill would allow legal cardholders with a valid registration for medical cannabis to acquire the drug and not worry about facing an arrest, penalty or prosecution; so long as the patient procures no more than the allowed amount of cannabis. 

Author of the bill Blackwell reaffirmed to lawmakers on February 12 that his legislation was not meant to undermine or serve as a substitute for the voter-approved initiative. Rather, he intends on using the bill as a “trigger” that will only be implemented in the event that the constitutional amendment is repealed.

“Over 74 percent of the people in this state voted for a medical [cannabis] program,” Blackwell said. “There is some jeopardy with Initiative 65. It is before the courts. It may be upheld, or it may be thrown down.”

Mississippi’s medical cannabis bill faces challenges 

In spite of its approval by voters, Initiative 65 is facing stiff opposition from Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler. Currently, she is protesting against Mississippi’s medical cannabis bill in the supreme court. Should she be victorious in arguing that the measure is unconstitutional, the initiative would be discarded.

Overall revenue for the state’s medical cannabis program is expected to reach approximately $10,662.000.